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Album Review: Transitions
David Hicken
Cover image of the album Transitions by David Hicken
David Hicken
2018 / Enchanting Music
49 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Transitions is David Hicken’s tenth solo piano album and is his first piano album released in the classical category (he released four albums of classical organ music earlier in his career). Like last year’s Momentum, Transitions is a combination of graceful, lyrical pieces and much bigger, showier works that demonstrate many facets of his composing and playing styles as well as his virtuosity at the piano. Eleven of the twelve tracks on the album are original compositions and the twelfth is Hicken’s magnificent arrangement of JS Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” The album was recorded on Hicken’s Kawai Shigeru grand piano and the sound quality is warm, colorful and very expressive. I have probably said this with most of Hicken’s new albums, but I think Transitions is his best album to date.

Transitions begins with “The Voyage,”which could be the theme to an epic adventure on the high seas. Overflowing with excitement, it’s a great start! “Cerca Trova” could only come from someone who knows the music of JS Bach and the Baroque era inside and out. The title translates to “seek and ye shall find,” and the piece is very fast with intricate figures on both hands. “Nampara” is a bit slower and more contemporary while retaining classical forms. “Angkor” was inspired when Hicken visited the ruins of an ancient temple in Cambodia last year. The piece is very calming while expressing a sense of wonder. The “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” is one of JS Bach’s best-known pieces and was originally written for organ. Dramatic and very flashy, it’s a piece that has always made my heart thump a little faster. Although Hicken’s arrangement doesn’t follow Bach’s original exactly, I’m sure JSB is smiling down from heaven! Almost an antidote to the excitement of the Toccata, “Akashvani” is graceful and serene (the title translates to “voice from the sky/heaven”) - a breath of fresh air. “Oenomaus” is another favorite. Fast and driving with a strong rhythm in the bass, it’s as much fun to play as it is to listen to! “Divergent” shows why jazz musicians love Bach. This piece never comes up for air, racing all over the piano keyboard with high energy tempered with a sense of fun. “Wrottesley Hall” is a bit different. The title refers to a Victorian mansion near the area where Hicken grew up. Stately yet spirited, I love the main theme! “Requiescat” returns to Hicken’s gentler side with a tender and poignant prayer for the soul of someone who has passed on. “Prime Meridian” is another favorite with its driving beat and intensity - I love the right hand crossovers to the deep bass of the piano! “Kaivalya” has a swirling energy that brings the album to a joyful and uplifting close.

David Hicken has been one of my top-favorite artists for the past ten years or so, and Transitions makes it obvious why. I’m very happy to say that there is a companion sheet music book available on David’s site. He has also made videos of all of the pieces on the album that can be viewed on DavidHicken.com and YouTube. The album is available now from DavidHicken.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. I give Transitions my highest recommendation!
May 14, 2018
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